RELEASE DATE: July 26, 2011
RATING: 3.85 Stars
Irreverent, witty, and mock adult, Karsten Knight’s Wildefire is a bit more high school than paranormal, but with a deep underlying plot surrounding its lead Ashline Wilde and the tempestuous relationship with her sister Eve that could be the unraveling of her destiny.
Sibling rivalry is a major understatement in Wildefire, and more akin to blood feud, as these two sisters collide viciously when one embraces and exploits her power, and the other tries to deny it.
For Ashline Wilde it would be a gift to be normal. Growing up as an adopted Polynesian to Jewish parents, the difference is enough to set her apart from her school mates. But coupled with the dangerous powers that have surfaced in her older sister Eve (and now she suspects in herself) Ash is concerned that she might be walking down the same dark path.
With a murder in the sisters’ wake, power denied, and Eve off the grid, Ash tries to start fresh at a prep school on the West Coast-leaving her old life behind. But her past soon comes back to haunt her (as well as Eve). And things get really complicated at the preppy but strange Blackwood Academy when her inner circle is comprised of teens…just like her…but with burgeoning powers they can’t get a handle on and the unmistakable sense that they are all cosmic pawns in a much bigger game.
Knight’s saucy appeal translates well into the playful and witty banter of his subjects, and Wildefire’s conflict has a very real and dangerous feel to it-one beyond its years for a mature YA novel. One cannot help but note that there are bumps in the weft of Knight’s text, particularly with the conflict (the Cloak) and the situations that the Blackwood troupe face. But for a 400 page YA novel that reads amazingly well, it’s easy to overlook it in light of Knights amazing gift with imagery and his dexterous metaphors. Wildefire at times reads like Skins meets The Vampire Diaries. Racy. Jaded.
Blackwood Academy absolutely bears no resemblance to Camp Half Blood, but the premise is the same, the moral incarnations of divine beings on earth grappling with their very real and dangerous powers. Each tangles with one another, their enemies, and must confront their futures as well as acknowledging their painful past incarnations. Knight provides a backstory for all the deities, and each is singularly riveting…the stories of Serena the Siren, Ashline, Ade Saint-Cyr as Shango, Raja as Isis, Lily as Konohana and Rolfe as Baldur are creative and non-traditional. His one enigma, Kokopelli is left for the end…and a harsh surprise to Ash that I’m guessing will inevitably make its way into a sequel.
Wildefire has an overwhelmingly compelling do or die feel to it-especially when taking into consideration the consequences of Eve’s return and disruption in Ash’s life at Blackwood showing that there can be no end in sight between them that does not involve the destruction of the other. Either way, blood will run and destruction will reign down.
I’m looking forward to the sequel because Knight has created quite the cliffhanger with Colt and Ash (and yess….Raja) with the last paragraph digested, one can only wonder as to what Colt’s motives are and how they will play out in Ashline’s future. And…who is really the Trickster?
A Fiendishly Bookish Review (and one grumpy cat)